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Reports on Progress in Physics

Joel Berry, Cliff Brangwynne, Mikko P Haataja
Exciting recent developments suggest that phase transitions represent an important and ubiquitous mechanism underlying intracellular organization. We describe key experimental findings in this area of study, as well as the application of classical theoretical approaches for quantitatively understanding these data. We also discuss the way in which equilibrium thermodynamic driving forces may interface with the fundamentally out-of-equilibrium nature of living cells. In particular, time and/or space-dependent concentration profiles may modulate the phase behavior of biomolecules in living cells...
January 9, 2018: Reports on Progress in Physics
Suckjoon Jun, Fangwei Si, Rami Pugatch, Matthew Scott
Bacterial physiology is a branch of biology that aims to understand overarching principles of cellular reproduction. Many important issues in bacterial physiology are inherently quantitative, and major contributors to the field have often brought together tools and ways of thinking from multiple disciplines. This article presents a comprehensive overview of major ideas and approaches developed since the early 20th century for anyone who is interested in the fundamental problems in bacterial physiology. This article is divided into two parts...
January 9, 2018: Reports on Progress in Physics
Masanori Kohno
A fundamental issue of the Mott transition is how electrons behaving as single particles carrying spin and charge in a metal change into those exhibiting separated spin and charge excitations (low-energy spin excitation and high-energy charge excitation) in a Mott insulator. This issue has attracted considerable attention particularly in relation to high-temperature cuprate superconductors, which exhibit electronic states near the Mott transition that are difficult to explain in conventional pictures. Here, from a new viewpoint of the Mott transition based on analyses of the Hubbard model, we review anomalous features observed in high-temperature cuprate superconductors near the Mott transition...
January 4, 2018: Reports on Progress in Physics
Jami J Kinnunen, Jildou Baarsma, Jani-Petri Martikainen, Paivi Torma
We review the concepts and the present state of theoretical studies of spin-imbalanced superfluidity, in particular the elusive Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov (FFLO) state, in the context of ultracold quantum gases. The comprehensive presentation of the theoretical basis for the FFLO state that we provide is useful also for research on the interplay between magnetism and superconductivity in other physical systems. We focus on settings that have been predicted to be favourable for the FFLO state, such as optical lattices in various dimensions and spin-orbit coupled systems...
January 2, 2018: Reports on Progress in Physics
Alessio Belenchia, Marco Letizia, Stefano Liberati, Eolo Di Casola
Modifications of Einstein's theory of gravitation have been extensively con- sidered in the past years, in connection to both cosmology and quantum gravity. Higher-curvature and higher-derivative gravity theories constitute the main examples of such modifications. These theories exhibit, in general, more degrees of freedom than those found in standard General Rela- tivity; counting, identifying, and retrieving the description/representation of such dynamical variables is currently an open problem, and a decidedly nontrivial one...
January 2, 2018: Reports on Progress in Physics
Sara Catalano, Marta Gibert, Jennifer Fowlie, Jorge Iniguez, Jean-Marc Triscone, Jens Kreisel
This review stands in the larger framework of functional materials by focussing on heterostructures of Rare-Earth Nickelates, described by the chemical formula RNiO3 where R is a trivalent rare-earth R = La, Pr, Nd, Sm, …, Lu. Nickelates are characterized by a rich phase diagram of structural and physical properties and serve as a benchmark for the physics of phase transitions in correlated oxides where electron-lattice coupling plays a key role. Much of the recent interest in nickelates concerns heterostructures, that is single layers of thin film, multilayers or superlattices, with the general objective of modulating their physical properties through strain control, confinement or interface effects...
December 21, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Hartmut F-W Sadrozinski, Abraham Seiden, Nicolò Cartiglia
The evolution of particle detectors has always pushed the technological limit in order to provide enabling technologies to researchers in all fields of science. One archetypal example is the evolution of silicon detectors, from a system with a few channels 30 years ago, to the tens of millions of independent pixels currently used to track charged particles in all major particle physics experiments. Nowadays, silicon detectors are ubiquitous not only in research laboratories but in almost every high-tech apparatus, from portable phones to hospitals...
December 18, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Wojciech Florkowski, Michal P Heller, Michal Spalinski
The past 10 years have witnessed a surge of interest in relativistic hydrodynamics, which has lead a number of interesting developments. A key motivating factor has been the success of the hydrodynamic description of the evolution of quark-gluon plasma produced in heavy ion collision experiments. Relativistic hydrodynamics has come to be viewed in the spirit of effective field theory, in the sense that the gradient expansion of the energy momentum tensor generated by the hydrodynamic theory should in principle be matched with the gradient expansion computed at the microscopic level...
December 11, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
William Bialek
Theoretical physics is the search for simple and universal mathematical descriptions of the natural world. In contrast, much of modern biology is an exploration of the complexity and diversity of life. For many, this contrast is prima facie evidence that theory, in the sense that physicists use the word, is impossible in a biological context. For others, this contrast serves to highlight a grand challenge. I am an optimist, and believe (along with many colleagues) that the time is ripe for the emergence of a more unified theoretical physics of biological systems, building on successes in thinking about particular phenomena...
December 7, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Grant T England, Joanna Aizenberg
Structural color arises from the patterning of geometric features or refractive indices of the constituent materials on the length-scale of visible light. Many different organisms have developed structurally colored materials as a means of creating multifunctional structures or displaying colors for which pigments are unavailable. By studying such organisms, scientists have developed artificial structurally colored materials that take advantage of the hierarchical geometries, frequently employed for structural coloration in nature...
November 29, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
H R Glyde
Progress made in measuring and interpreting the elementary excitations of superfluid and normal liquid [Formula: see text] in the past 25 years is reviewed. The goal is to bring up to date the data, calculations and our understanding of the excitations since the books and reviews of the early 1990s. Only bulk liquid [Formula: see text] is considered. Reference to liquid [Formula: see text], mixtures, reduced dimensions (films and confined helium) is made where useful to enhance interpretation. The focus is on the excitations as measured by inelastic neutron scattering methods...
November 23, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Peter Woelfle
Quasiparticles are a powerful concept of condensed matter quantum theory. In this review the appearence and the properties of quasiparticles are presented in a unifying perspective. The principles behind the existence of quasiparticle excitations in both quantum disordered and ordered phases of fermionic and bosonic systems are discussed . The lifetime of quasiparticles is considered in particular near a continuous classical or quantum phase transition, when the nature of quasiparticles on both sides of a transition into an ordered state changes...
November 20, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Dragan Huterer, Daniel L Shafer
The discovery of the accelerating universe in the late 1990s was a watershed moment in modern cosmology, as it indicated the presence of a fundamentally new, dominant contribution to the energy budget of the universe. Evidence for dark energy, the new component that causes the acceleration, has since become extremely strong, owing to an impressive variety of increasingly precise measurements of the expansion history and the growth of structure in the universe. Still, one of the central challenges of modern cosmology is to shed light on the physical mechanism behind the accelerating universe...
November 9, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
S Cocco, Christoph Feinauer, Matteo Figliuzzi, Remi Monasson, Martin Weigt
In the course of evolution, proteins undergo important changes in their amino-acid sequences, while their three-dimensional folded structure and their biological function remain remarkably conserved. Thanks to modern sequencing techniques, sequence data accumulate at unprecedented pace. This provides large sets of so-called homologous, i.e.~evolutionarily related protein sequences, to which methods of inverse statistical physics can be applied. Using sequence data as the basis for the inference of Boltzmann distributions from samples of microscopic configurations or observables, it is possible to extract information about evolutionary constraints and thus protein function and structure...
November 9, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Sigitas Tamulevicius, Sarunas Meskinis, Tomas Tamulevičius, Horst-Guenter Rubahn
In this work we present an overview on structure formation, optical and electrical properties of diamond like carbon (DLC) based metal nanocomposites deposited by reactive magnetron sputtering and treated by plasma and laser ablation methods. The influence of deposition mode and other technological conditions on the properties of the nanosized filler, matrix components and composition were studied systematically in relation to the final properties of the nanocomposites. Applications of the nanocomposites in the development of novel biosensors combining resonance response of wave guiding structures in DLC based nanocomposites as well as plasmonic effects are also presented...
October 27, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Uri Obolski, Yoav Ram, Lilach Hadany
Adaptive landscapes represent a mapping between genotype and fitness. Rugged adaptive landscapes contain two or more adaptive peaks: allele combinations with higher fitness than any of their neighbors on the genetic space. How would a population evolve on such rugged landscapes? Evolutionary biologists have struggled with this question since it was first introduced in the 1930's by Sewall Wright. Discoveries in the fields of genetics and biochemistry inspired various mathematical models of adaptive landscapes...
October 20, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Hartmut Sadrozinski, Abraham Seiden, Nicolo Cartiglia
The evolution of particle detectors has always pushed the technological limit in order to provide enabling technologies to researchers in all fields of science. One archetypal example is the evolution of silicon detectors, from a system with a few channels 30 years ago, to the tens of millions of independent pixels currently used to track charged particles in all major particle physics experiments. Nowadays, silicon detectors are ubiquitous not only in research laboratories but in almost every high tech apparatus, from portable phones to hospitals...
October 20, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Suzanne Staggs, Lyman Page, Joanna Dunkley
Measurements of the anisotropies in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation have provided a wealth of information about the cosmological model that describes the contents and evolution of the universe. These data have led to a standard model described by just six parameters. In this review we focus on discoveries made in the past decade from satellite and ground-based experiments, and look ahead to those anticipated in the coming decade. We provide an introduction to the key CMB observables including temperature and polarization anisotropies, and describe recent progress towards understanding the initial conditions of structure formation, and establishing the properties of the contents of the universe including neutrinos...
October 20, 2017: Reports on Progress in Physics
Richard Schmidt, Michael Knap, Dmitri A Ivanov, Jhih-Shih You, Marko Cetina, Eugene Demler
In this report we discuss the dynamical response of heavy quantum impurities immersed in a Fermi gas at zero and at finite temperature. Studying both the frequency and the time domain allows one to identify interaction regimes that are characterized by distinct many-body dynamics. From this theoretical study a picture emerges in which impurity dynamics is universal on essentially all time scales, and where the high-frequency few-body response is related to the long-time dynamics of the Anderson orthogonality catastrophe by Tan relations...
February 2018: Reports on Progress in Physics
Christopher D Bostick, Sabyasachi Mukhopadhyay, Israel Pecht, Mordechai Sheves, David Cahen, David Lederman
We review the status of protein-based molecular electronics. First, we define and discuss fundamental concepts of electron transfer and transport in and across proteins and proposed mechanisms for these processes. We then describe the immobilization of proteins to solid-state surfaces in both nanoscale and macroscopic approaches, and highlight how different methodologies can alter protein electronic properties. Because immobilizing proteins while retaining biological activity is crucial to the successful development of bioelectronic devices, we discuss this process at length...
February 2018: Reports on Progress in Physics
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